A bomb explosion in a town in the southern Philippines on 2 September claimed the lives of an 18-year-old catechist (he taught the Christian faith in public schools in his free time) and his 15-year-old cousin, Catholic news agency UCAN reports.
The blast that killed Jun Mark Luda and Marialyn Luda, at an Internet café in the town of Insulan, in Sultan Kudarat province, also injured 14 people.
Local schools remained closed yesterday (3 September) for security reasons.
Sister Alice Original of the Oblates of Notre Dame described Jun Mark Luda as “an active catechist”.
“He was smart and talented. His jolliness was contagious. We are saddened by his death,” said parishioner Josephine Patosa, who added that the attacks in the region “destroy the harmony between Muslims and Christians”.
The perpetrators are thought to be “an extremist group opposed to a peace deal with Manila”, according to UCAN. Army commander Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana blamed the attack on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
For more than 40 years, Islamist groups have been engaged in an insurgency for an independent province in the Mindanao island group of the southern Philippines. The largest group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), engaged with the government to support the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that is to facilitate the creation of an autonomous Muslim region, agreed in August.
But more extreme groups like BIFF continue the insurgency.
Five days earlier, another explosion took place in the same town, killing three and injuring 36.
BIFF was also blamed for the bomb explosion outside St. Anthony’s Catholic Cathedral in the city of Koronadal, capital of South Cotabato province, on 29 April, which injured two people. Another explosive device was found later outside a shop near the church.
The group has carried out attacks such as the occupation of a school in Malagakit village, 200km south of Marawi, and vandalism of the inside of a chapel in the nearby town of Pigcawayan in June 2017.